Your Response is Everything

August 30th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

“Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you.” —Aldous Huxley

How are you responding in life?

We all know that life is full of high and low moments. One moment you’re feeling on top of the world and a few days, or minutes, later something happens and you feel like you’ve taken three steps backwards. Charles Swindoll famously said “Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react.” Your response in these moments is critical to your success and happiness in life.

Responding to challenging situations is a choice. When faced with something difficult, most of us simply fall back on an instinctual reaction driven by the fight or flight part of our brain. In that moment we often feel threatened which triggers our ingrained behaviors to take over. This rarely produces a good outcome.

The first step is to remain calm, which is a lot easier said than done. Research has shown that under stress our field of vision shrinks to 30 degrees. We are literally stuck in “tunnel vision” which prevents us from seeing the situation clearly. However, if we can take a few deep breaths and remain calm, we give ourselves a chance to step back and objectively assess the situation. We can distinguish the facts of the situation vs. the assumptions we might be reacting too.

Once we have slowed ourselves down, we can determine how we want to respond. Our focus needs to be on what we can influence in the situation. It’s quite likely that there are many factors we can’t influence. Rather than wasting time complaining about those factors, choose to take action on what you can influence. While you can’t control what other people will or will not do, you can choose the tone and words you want to use when you respond to them.

It can be difficult to deal with challenging situations that aren’t unfolding the way we want them to. You can choose to react in a way that attempts to control the situation and the people involved or you could decide to complain about how powerless you are. Neither of these responses is helpful.

When you choose to remain calm in order to step back and assess the situation, you can take action in the areas you can influence and you won’t feel powerless. Although the outcomes may not play out the way you want, your approach will create the confidence and resilience you need to weather the inevitable peaks and valleys that life brings. Then, even during the challenging moments, you can honestly say that you are happy.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one strategy you will use to help you respond more effectively.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Embrace Abnormal

April 19th, 2015 § 6 comments § permalink

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” —Maya Angelou

Are you hiding behind normality?

You have a choice to make. Either you can decide to play it safe and follow the crowd. Or, you can choose to embrace what makes you unique and the gifts you have to offer. Normality is a myth and success depends upon your willingness to affirm who you are and what you have to offer.

It takes courage to be true to yourself. As you step out and let the real you shine through, there’s always a risk that others aren’t going to like you. Even those closest to you might not agree with your beliefs or approach. However, no matter what you do there will always be someone that doesn’t care for you. The greater risk is living a life of mediocrity.

A seed of potential exists within every one of us.  Unless we’re willing to take the necessary steps to cultivate our potential it will never blossom. The first step is to become clear about who you are.  Discover your passions, values, and strengths so you understand the impact you want to make.

Once you have this foundation of self-awareness in place you can begin to develop your potential. Actively look for opportunities to use your strengths. Start sharing your desires with close family, friends, and colleagues to see what ideas they might offer for practicing your strengths. The more you experiment the more clarity you will have about what is a best fit for you. Additionally, you will continue to refine your strengths.

Accept that it’s okay not to be normal. The concept of being normal is a myth and only exists when people continue to feed the belief that we have to fit in to some popularly accepted norm. No body is normal. We are each unique with our own set of strengths, challenges, desires, and fears. Recognize that these are the things that make you amazing and embrace who you truly are. Then you can begin the path to happiness, success, and fulfillment.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify three strengths you possess and share one of them with someone.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC



Leaders Maximize the Talent of their Teams

February 8th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

“A successful person finds the right place for himself. But a successful leader finds the right place for others.” -John Maxwell

How are you helping your employees maximize their talent?

As a leader, it’s your responsibility to cultivate the talent of your team. You need to understand and accept that each member of your team is a unique individual and it’s your job to capitalize on the talents and strengths they bring to the table.

You must first be able to recognize the talents of your various team members. Most people aren’t very good at recognizing their talents. Because these aspects of ourselves come so naturally, we take them for granted and assume they aren’t that important.

As a leader you need to be on the look out for evidence of talent and share your observations with your team members to help them appreciate the impact they make. Additionally, spend time coaching them to explore what tasks they enjoy as well as which ones come very naturally and effortlessly to them. Help your team identify how they feel while doing these tasks and why they enjoy them.

Once you’ve helped your employees begin to recognize their talents search for opportunities for them to develop their talents. You might send them to a conference or seminar where they can acquire knowledge or develop skills that will help them apply their talents. Or you could provide them with new assignments to give them an opportunity to apply their talents in new ways.

Finally, you need to take a few steps back and consider how to leverage all of the talents on your team. This could possibly entail rearranging the way work is completed in order to allow different individuals on your team to play to their strengths. As you become more aware of the talents on your team, you might even realize there is a need for some new roles. Your team might just have the talents necessary to address a unique need for your organization and/or customers.

Finally, you could come to the conclusion that the best opportunity for one of your team members to maximize their talents is to move on to another position either within or outside your organization. Good leaders realize that what is best for this individual is best for the organization. When they actively support an individual making the move that is right for them, these leaders demonstrate that they put their team first and create an environment of trust.

It’s the responsibility of a leader to nurture the talent of their team. The best leaders are adept at recognizing, developing, and leveraging talent in a way that achieves results and creates a foundation of trust.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one talent in each of your team members.

Make it an excellent week.

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

You Always Have a Choice

August 24th, 2014 § 4 comments § permalink

“We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” —Carlos Casteneda

What kind of life do you want?

It’s within your power to choose how you want to live your life. You can choose to approach life with a pessimistic attitude and walk around as if the sky is falling. Maybe things are going pretty well but you find yourself waiting for the other shoe to drop on your head. Or, you can decide to have a more positive and optimistic outlook. While you recognize that life is not without challenges, you trust in your ability to persevere and emerge in a better condition.

Life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes it can even feel like quite an emotional roller coaster. One minute you are excited about a new opportunity and a few hours or days later you are drained by a significant challenge. These high and low moments are unavoidable. However, you can decide how high or low you want to allow yourself to become.

It’s all about where you focus your energy. Some people choose to spend their time and energy complaining about their situation. They spend countless hours looking for people or reasons to blame for their predicament. Additionally, they are on an endless quest to find people who will listen to them weave their tales of woe in an effort to convince everyone that it simply isn’t their fault. Individuals like this have a knack for sucking the energy out of a room.

In order to be happy and successful in life, you need to focus your energy on learning from every situation. Begin by identifying your part in the problem. If you can’t determine what part you play, you have little chance of resolving the situation or learning from it. Maybe you inadvertently did something to lead to the situation. You might have made a decision that you knew in your gut wasn’t right. Even when thrown into a difficult situation that wasn’t of your making, your part in the problem is determined by how you respond to the situation.

Next, find someone you trust to share your problem with. It needs to be someone who won’t judge you but will also challenge you to consider your part in the problem. They won’t allow you to wallow in self-pity and victim hood rather they push you to determine what you can do differently in order to make a change. The focus of this conversation is learning, not commiserating.

Life isn’t always easy. With every situation you face you have the power to choose how you want to live. You can choose to stay stuck in anger and negativity or you can decide to focus on the positive and look for opportunities to learn regardless of the situation. Approaching life with a positive attitude will provide a sense of relief and make life easier, especially during the difficult times.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Look for at least one positive in every situation you encounter this week.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Accept Your Imperfection

May 4th, 2014 § 6 comments § permalink

“Great leaders are not defined by absence of weakness, but rather by presence of clear strengths.” —John Zenger

Are you hindered by the myth of being well rounded?

Nobody is perfect. There’s no such thing as a “well rounded” individual or leader. We’ve all been conditioned to believe that we should strive to be well rounded. Although perpetuated by well-intended people in our lives, whether our parents, teachers, or managers, this mindset simply isn’t realistic.

We live in a world that increases in complexity every day. As the world’s knowledge base grows exponentially, today’s groundbreaking discovery may become obsolete in several months. Due to the speed of change it’s no longer realistic to rely on a few people at the top of the organization to have all the answers.

Success is based upon your ability to play to your individual strengths while leveraging the strengths of others. You must first become clear about what you do well and where you can make the most significant impact. Deliberately invest as much of your time and energy to master these areas so your team and organization can reap the benefits of what you have to offer.

As important as it is to be clear about your strengths, you also need to be clear about your weaknesses. No one is perfect at everything. Unless you acknowledge and accept your weaknesses, you’ll succumb to fear of appearing that you aren’t capable of doing your job and will attempt to cover-up your weaknesses.

Once you acknowledge your weaknesses, don’t spend an inordinate amount of time trying to fix them. Instead, identify people on your team, or add them to your team, that can compliment your weaknesses. When your team is well rounded it isn’t necessary for you to be.

In order to be successful as a leader or in any career, you need to be focused on the areas of your greatest strength. It takes a great deal of time and energy to master a task and there isn’t enough time to master every task in your role. Rather than needlessly spinning your wheels with your weaknesses make the choice to build a well-rounded team that compliments you.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify a key weakness and look for someone to compliment you in this area.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC  


Be True to Yourself

September 15th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

“I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure which is: try to please everyone.” – Herbert Swope


Whose life are you living?

Life is short and you only get one chance to make it count. Choosing not to live your best life simply wastes the gift you’ve been given. In order to look back on your life with satisfaction, you need to blaze your own trail and not allow yourself to be influenced by the desires others have for you.

You’re here in this moment in history for a specific reason. Success will be yours once you gain clarity about, and embrace, your purpose. When you embrace who you are and what you have to offer you’ll be an inspiration to others. Not only will you make an impact in the way only you can, you’ll also demonstrate to others the fulfillment that comes from being true to who you are.

This doesn’t mean everyone is going to like you. You will come across plenty of people in your life that disagree with your choices. They may be strangers, co-workers, friends, or even family members. Sometimes it’s simply a difference of opinion and you won’t agree with their choices either. In other instances, they may actually be jealous and threatened by your confidence.

Regardless of why people disagree with you, don’t let this deter you from following the path that is right for you. There is only one you! If you don’t live the life you were designed to live, nobody will. Not only will you miss out on a fulfilling life, the world will never have the opportunity to benefit from what you have to offer.

One of my favorite movies is “It’s a Wonderful Life”. While some may find it cheesy, I believe the story does a wonderful job of showcasing how important every one of our lives are. Don’t waste any more time living someone else’s life. For the benefit of yourself, and all of us, embrace everything you have to offer and start living your best life.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one change you want to make to embrace the life that is right for you.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

What’s Your Inspiration?

August 18th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” —Ella Fitzgerald

Are you inspired?

I hope you have something in your life that inspires you. Life can be hard and it’s all too easy to resign yourself to living an unfulfilled life of going through the motions. In order to thrive, rather than merely survive, you need to tap into your passion.

Everyone has passion. I guarantee there are at least one or two topics, subjects, or activities that energize and excite you. The problem isn’t a lack of passion, it’s that you don’t take your passion seriously. You might simply blow it off as silly or maybe you don’t believe you can make a living by playing to your passion. You might be right but you’ll never know if you don’t give it a try.

The key is to simply take one step at a time. First, don’t belittle your passion. If its something you enjoy, the worse thing you could do is to disregard it as silly. What matters is that this activity or topic inspires you in some way.

Next, permit yourself to spend time with your passion. Although you may not be able to make it your livelihood at this time, dedicate a little time each day to your area of passion. This will help you develop a deeper understanding of the topic and/or become more effective at the task. Not to mention it will provide you a sense of fulfillment, which will positively influence the other areas of your life.

Finally, develop a deeper awareness of why you are passionate about this task or subject. What aspects do you get most excited about and why do those things speak to you? With clarity about the elements that are most inspiring to you, search for opportunities in other areas of your life where you can make a similar impact.

Don’t get hung-up worrying about making a living through your passion. As you embrace your passion and learn more about why it’s important to you, you may discover opportunities you didn’t know existed. Even if you ultimately decide not to make a career out of your passions, you will have cultivated a hobby that can continue to be a major source of inspiration and fulfillment for you.

Time for this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Spend at least 30 minutes each day devoted to your area of passion.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Got Confidence?

August 4th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

“Your chances of success in any undertaking can always be measured by your belief in yourself.” —Robert Collier

How confident are you?

I’ve noticed that many people lack confidence. I haven’t always been the most confident person myself and I can tell you from personal experience that it’s one of the biggest barriers to success. In my opinion two critical factors drive lack of confidence, perfectionism and lack of awareness about your strengths.

Where does your lack of confidence come from? Trying to figure out the answer can be like determining which came first, the chicken or the egg. Regardless of why you struggle with confidence, if you aren’t careful you’ll find yourself trapped in a vicious cycle. When you’re unsure of yourself, fear of failure will lead you to approach life and situations apprehensively. As a result you’re more likely to fall short, which will only decrease your confidence even more.

Only you can choose to break the cycle. First, you need to realize that everyone makes mistakes. When you embrace that perfection is a myth you won’t be devastated when things don’t go as planned. Rather than beating yourself up for not being good enough, you’ll be able to pick yourself up, apply what you learned, and move forward.

It’s also essential to understand that success doesn’t happen overnight. In No Overnight Success I talked about what appears to be sudden stardom is actually the culmination of years of hard work and dedication. There are no shortcuts to success and you can’t bypass the bumps in the road.

Once you let go of the need to be perfect, begin building your confidence by focusing on your talents. Don’t try to tell me you aren’t talented because everyone has talent. You might have an instinctual ability to organize complex tasks and projects into smaller steps to ensure completion. Or, maybe you have an uncanny ability to sense what the future will bring while preparing yourself and others to take advantage of the opportunities.

As you become more aware of your strengths you can watch for opportunities to use them more fully and frequently. The more you play to your strengths the more energized, confident, and successful you will be. Along with this confidence you’ll begin to accept that you don’t have to be good at everything. When confronted with the decision on how to spend your time you’ll choose to play to your strengths rather than become drained trying to fix a weakness.

Nobody is perfect or strong in every area. You will experience true confidence once you’re clear about your strengths and deliberately choose to spend your time and energy developing them. Embrace your imperfectness and let your strengths shine!

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one strength to focus on and one weakness to accept and let go.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC



Embrace Your Authentic Excellence

April 7th, 2013 § 4 comments § permalink

“Our business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves – to break our own records, to outstrip our yesterday by our today.”  — Stewart B. Johnson

How are you capitalizing on the attributes that make you unique?

It’s a popular cliché to say that life is a journey. Although the metaphor may be a tad overused, it’s quite accurate. Each of us has a path we must travel and like any path it’s full of twists and turns. The important question is which path have you chosen. Are you following the path that is right for you or have you become beholden to the expectations of somebody else?

Deep down we all know it’s important to follow our own path rather than trying to live up to the expectations others have for us. Unfortunately, we are continually confronted with subtle pressures, which often prevent clarity about what is best for us. Even when we have chose to follow the best path these same pressures may cause us to become distracted and stumble.

We are constantly bombarded with messages that reinforce the societal definition of success, which is based on the amount of money we make, the size of our house, and the number of cars we drive. Coupled with this unconscious pressure many people also experience the subtle push from family and friends encouraging them to follow a path that is deemed most lucrative and/or stable.

Fortunately you don’t have to accept society’s definition of success. I encourage you to reject the stereotypical view of success and embrace your Authentic Excellence instead. You’ve been put on this earth for a reason. Likewise, you possess a unique combination of talents, knowledge, and skills that the world is waiting for you to share. Your ability to fulfill your potential and achieve your Authentic Excellence, depends upon your willingness and courage to follow the path designed for you.

When you choose to embrace your Authentic Excellence and follow your path you’ll experience a great sense of freedom. I’m not suggesting the path won’t be full of ups and downs. However, once you’re confident about who you are and what is right for you, the need to compete or compare yourself to others will begin to diminish. Rather than worrying about the need to prove yourself to others, you’ll challenge yourself to stay focused, put one foot in front of the other, and fulfill the potential that lies within you.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Take an hour to reflect on the path you’re currently traveling and determine if a course correction is needed.

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Eliminate Negative Influences

February 10th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

—Mark Twain

Are the people in your life energizing or draining you?

It’s very important to be mindful about who you choose to spend your time with.  You interact with many different people every day and each of them has the potential to influence your beliefs and outlook on life. Some of them are upbeat and positive while others always seem to find the grey cloud in a sunny day. In order to be successful, you need to cultivate those positive relationships in your life and do everything you can to steer clear of the individuals that drain you.

Unfortunately you will encounter many people that don’t want you to be successful. You may even discover that some of them are your closest friends or family. Recognize it isn’t about you and don’t take it personally. Success is the result of hard work, risk, and a little bit of luck. Many people aren’t willing to put forth the effort or are simply afraid to take the risk necessary to be successful.

Additionally, some people may find your success threatening. It challenges them to look at themselves and question why they can’t experience the same level of achievement. Rather than commit energy towards working hard, it’s easier to blame their circumstances for their lack of success. Pulling you into that same mindset only makes it easier for to avoid taking ownership for their own lives.

If you find yourself surrounded by individuals that drain your energy, do whatever you can to distance yourself from them. The best approach is to limit the amount of contact you have with these individuals. When you have to interact with negative people, employ a couple of simple strategies. First, make sure you are emotionally strong. When you’re confident in your abilities, you’re less likely to be swayed by the other person’s negativity. It is your choice whether or not you allow their behaviors and mindsets to drain you.

Finally, make the decision to be of service to these individuals. Approach them in a polite and empathetic way. Try to understand where they’re coming from but don’t feed into their victimization. Instead, model the positive mindset you believe is important. Help them see a more effective way to approach the situation but don’t get caught trying to force them to change. Simply demonstrate another approach.

The road to success can feel lonely at times, especially if those closest to you aren’t willing to travel down the same road. Rest assured, although the road may not be crowded you are bound to find several like-minded people who will happily support you in achieving your dreams.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Develop strategies to handle the negative people in your life.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC